'Iron Man 3' Writers Wanted to Foreshadow Tony Stark's Alcoholism

Tony Stark

Decades ago, Marvel staked its claim to comics readers' budgets by creating fully realized heroes -- characters whose messy personal lives often stood in marked contrast to the noble pictures their alter egos presented to the public -- and perhaps none were more painfully drawn than Tony Stark, the wealthy industrialist driven to a life of crimefighting after being physically crippled by bomb shards during a war his weapons helped wage.

One of the Marvel universe's more intriguingly flawed heroes, Stark has often struggled to live up to his role as Iron Man -- most notably during the eight-issue arc dubbed "Demon in a Bottle," which found Tony battling alcoholism. Hailed as one of the publisher's classic stories since hitting comics racks in 1979, "Demon" has been rumored as a plotline for each of the Iron Man films -- but we haven't seen it yet, and that won't change in Iron Man 3.

Screenwriters Drew Pearce and Shane Black (who also directed) touched on "Demon in a Bottle" during a recent interview with Comic Book Movie, revealing that the studio actually stepped in and halted their efforts to touch on Stark's drinking problem. As Pearce put it, "In our first draft Tony was a bit more rock 'n' roll."

"I think we were just told by the studio that we should probably paint Tony Stark as being kind of an industrialist and a crazy guy, or even a bad guy at some points, but the Demon in a Bottle stuff of him being an alcoholic wouldn't really fly," added Black. "I don't blame that."

"It's also kind of a 'pick your battles' thing," continued Pearce. "Alcoholism is a massive problem but it's also not the best villain for a movie."

Both Black and Pearce concurred that the seriousness of the subject matter would necessitate using it as the main plot, which would, in turn, effectively undermine audience's expectations for an Iron Man film (but would make for a wonderfully subversive, albeit probably commercially disastrous, addition to the comic book movie genre). But that doesn't mean it'll never happen; as Black put it, "I wouldn't be surprised if at some point someone wanted to make a movie and they'd run out of directions for the character, then they've still got 'Demon in a Bottle.'"

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Jeff is an entertainment writer and editor whose work currently appears at a variety of sites, including Rotten Tomatoes, Paste, American Songwriter, Popdose, Dadnabbit, Diffuser, and Ultimate Classic Rock.

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